By Anne Vorrasi
Updated Jul 31, 2017 @ 3:00 pm
Credit: Courtesy Rachel Parcell

Wrangling curious, active children is hard enough when you’re at home, and the thought of bringing them to a restaurant can feel like the impossible. First you have to dress them appropriately, and pack all their extra gear of clothes, diapers, and distractions—and you haven't even left the house yet!—then once you arrive, there is no predicting how your kids will behave. Will they act like angels? Or little terrors? We tapped Pink Peonies blogger Rachel Parcell for her mommy tips on how she approaches taking two young children to her favorite eateries, and how she keeps her cool during those bound-to-happen meltdowns.

Read on for Rachel Parcell’s tips on how to get your kids to behave at a restaurant below.

1. Have realistic expectations. It’s unfair to take young children out and expect them to be behave or be absolutely perfect for an hour. Kids will be kids, and that’s ok! Take into consideration the environment, their age, and the time.

2. Give them a preview. If they’re old enough, explain where they are going, what they’ll be eating and the manners you expect. That way when you arrive (hopefully!!) everyone is on the same page and you can have an enjoyable dinner.

3. Create distractions. While kids wait for their food they might become impatient, so try to create distractions and get them thinking about something else. Some restaurants have paper placemats for kids or paper to color on, other restaurants have monitors with games or movies loaded on them. You could even pack a few small books or toys if needed.

4. Take a break outside. Sometimes not everything goes as planned and a meltdown happens. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to step outside! A little fresh air is always good.

5. Know what will be on the menu. This is a big one!! Whenever we want to go out I almost always look up the menu of the restaurant we had in mind to see what options they have for kids. If you aren’t seeing many options that your kids would love, you can always pack dinner for the kids that way you know they’ll eat and be satisfied.

6. If all else fails, leave. If at some point you think leaving is the best option, leave. Everyone has been there before! You know the situation and your child best, so you can make that call.